Sunday, June 29, 2014

Halle Berry ordered to pay $16,000 a month in child support

Remember in 2011 during Halle Berry ‘s interview with Extra, where she spoke about how she and former flame Gabriel Aubry had “happily” resolved their custody issues…well a few years later the narrative got much more heated.
Quick recap: the Oscar winning actress, and the Canadian model met and starting dating in 2005.  Nahla, their daughter was born in 2008 and the couple seemingly amicably split in spring 2010. Although an initial custody agreement was reached in 2011, things went downhill quickly during a physical altercation on Thanksgiving 2012 between Aubry and Berry's  husband, Olivier Martinez when Aubry came to Berry's home to drop off  Nahla.
After a lengthy court battle on May 30, 2014,  Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the now mother of two, to pay over $16,000 in child support each month to her ex, Gabriel Aubry, to provide for their now 6-year-old daughter Nahla. Although they both have equal shared custody, Berry’s payments will continue until Nahla graduates high school or reaches her 19th birthday, whichever occurs first.

Berry has also been ordered to pay Aubry’s legal fees equaling $300,000 and $115,000 in retroactive child support.

This often leads to questions:  Why is a woman ordered to pay child support?
Answer: Child support laws are - for the most part -gender neutral.

If they have shared custody, why is she paying child support?
Answer: If there is a vast inequity in incomes, the court can - and often will - order support to balance out the child's homes.  There should not be a vast disparity between the homes.  In addition, celebrity children often need additional expenses that non-celebrity children do not.  One of these expenses might be bodyguards to protect them from the constant crush of paparazzi.  Every case is different.

In Georgia, we do not tend to see these massive support awards, but it is important to remember that equal parenting time does not always equal no child support.

Sources:  People Magazine ; CNN

Key words:

Halle Berry, Gabriel Aubry, Olivier Martinez, custody, child support, celebrity cases

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Divorce and social media: Where should the line be drawn?

At times, a person may feel frustrated or confused by the way things are proceeding during his or her divorce. In this day and age, people might turn to popular social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to vent in the hopes of receiving support from friends. The problem with this, however, is that social media content can come back to haunt someone as they move forward with divorce.
One man quickly found his claim for child custody in jeopardy after he made a comment about his divorce in a Facebook post. After making a generalized statement about losing custody, the man's ex-wife filed a successful motion for contempt of court.

Even though the man in this case didn't specifically call out the mother of his child, his words were used against him. In response to the contempt charges, the family law judge gave the man an opportunity to post a daily, prepared apology on his Facebook page or spend 60 days in jail.
According to the Huffington Post, the man complied with online apologies for a short time, but soon stopped doing so. Fortunately, the man didn't face time behind bars and was eventually granted custody, but his route probably isn't the best for every parent.

The important thing to remember is that people are watching what you say on social media. Even after the man blocked his ex-wife on Facebook, she was still able to get a hold of his post. A seemingly harmless statement made in the heat of the moment can be brought before a judge during a child custody hearing. As such, a parent could lose their claim for custody, even if they are well-suited for parenting.

It's understandable why some parents might be frustrated by the process to obtain custody, but the important thing to remember is that custody decisions will ultimately be based on the best interested of the kids. Knowing this, family courts may use any available evidence to tip the scales in favor of one parent over the other.

Regina I. Edwards

Source: The Huffington Post, "How A Facebook Post Almost Got This Dad Thrown In Jail," Jan. 24, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movement to balance custody laws gains steam

Many years ago, it was widely accepted (and one could say expected) that when a couple was married, it was the man who went to work and "brought home the bacon" while the woman stayed at home and took care of the kids and the house. This simple (if not demeaning) approach to marriage caused issues when divorce entered the equation. How would the woman financially provide for herself? How would the man be able to take care of their kids?

Obviously times have dramatically changed since then, and gender roles are constantly converging and colliding in today's world. This is a tremendous development, as we strive for gender equality and the overall improvement of people, in general. This still leaves open the possibility of stay-at-home moms (or dads) -- but the expectation is no longer there.

However, what this does mean is that father's rights have become a major topic in the world of family law. Studies increasingly show that children of divorce benefit from seeing both of their parents. Having a relationship with each (instead of sole custody going to one parent) usually helps them. And yet, many courts simply assign custody (in cases where joint custody can't be agreed) to the mother, possibly as a byproduct of the stigmas attached to marriage from those marriages many years ago.
In recent years, some father's rights movements have pushed for child custody equality. This doesn't mean that every child custody case should end with joint custody. Certain divorces have special circumstances where sole custody being granted to one parent makes more sense. But, in general, more joint custody agreements could help both the divorced parents and their child.

Source: NPR, "Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 26, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Divorce is increasing, not decreasing according to study

A new study sheds some light on the U.S. divorce rate, and what has really been going on over the past few decades. It was thought that the divorce rate was decreasing since the 1970s, but the new study paints a very different picture. According to the new research, "the age-standardized refined divorce rate increased substantially after 1990 and is now at an all-time high."

It's a startling revelation in some ways, but in others it may not mean too much. Divorce is actually a simple "device," if you want to think about it in those terms. It allows people who are married but realize that their marriage is no longer tenable to solve their problem.

That is the crux of the matter: divorce is a solution to a problem, not a problem that is in need of solving. People who are unhappy in their marriages and recognize that it is time to change are going to file for divorce regardless of the divorce rate. There will never be a magical number that the divorce rate needs to hit for people to stop divorcing. That world will never exist.

So in the real world where divorce happens all the time and it shouldn't be considered a problem, it is best for unhappy couples to consult an experienced family law attorney to help them get organized and prepared for their split. In some ways, this is more important for fathers who could be confronted with some complex child custody matters in their divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is the US Divorce Rate Going Up Rather Than Going Down?," Robert Hughes Jr., March 6, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life circumstances can alter how prenuptial agreement is enforced

On behalf of Regina Edwards of Edwards & Associates, Family Law Attorneys posted in High Asset Divorce on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. 

Take a moment and consider this scenario: say you've been married for many years, but your spouse had a prior marriage. Both of you waived your rights to alimony and signed a prenuptial agreement. Your spouse had multiple kids in the first marriage, and they come to live with you. To make everything work, you quit your job to help take care of them. Everything is going well for many years -- and then your marriage hits a snag.

What are you supposed to do in this scenario? Without a right to alimony or spousal support, and with no job or working experience in years, you could be in a dire financial situation. If you and your spouse were to divorce, would the prenuptial agreement still stand? Or would parts of it be nullified given the drastically different life circumstances that apply now?

It is impossible to give a definite answer to any of these questions without specific details about the people and assets involved. Prenuptial agreements are critical documents, but they are also tricky. The person enforcing the prenup has a significant evidentiary threshold to cover, as does the other party involved. The above scenario may be imaginary in this context, but it is also very real for many couples across the country. Just look at our source article as an example.

Ultimately, it is important to realize that every marriage or divorce is unique -- and that the parties involved need to consult and experienced family law attorney to help them navigate the specifics of their case.

Source: Boston Herald, "Woman worries about terms of prenup," Gerald Nissenbaum, March 16, 2014
Tags: divorce

Monday, January 13, 2014

How Divorce Attorneys Use Social Media as Evidence

Social Media Divorce Evidence
Georgia Family Law Courtesy of and published originally by Dishon & Block Divorce Attorneys

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mom Must Pay $195,000 in Fees for Custody Battle in Fulton County

Daily Report
2014-01-02 00:00:13.0

The judge overseeing a child-custody battle that brought demonstrators to the Fulton County Courthouse twice this year in support of the mother has made a permanent his decision to keep the 11-year-old child at issue in the father's custody.

Judge John Goger of Fulton Superior Court also ordered the mother to pay $195,513 in attorney fees for pursuing child-abuse allegations against her ex-husband that the judge deemed not credible.

The rest of the article may be found at

Although this was not our case, we appear in front of this judge recently.  In a case that had similarities to this one, the judge kept custody with my client, the father, and ordered the mother to pay $12,000 in attorney's fees.   The court is sending a clear message about litigants who attempt to abuse the process.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tax liabilities may be especially important in high-asset divorce

At times, making the decision to divorce may be particularly challenging. Once couples reach the point that they are ready to split, however, there may be an inclination to rush to the finish line without considering the wide range of consequences associated with getting divorced. As such, it may be particularly important to accurately assess the impact of divorce as the process moves forward.

One thing that spouses might not immediately consider is that there are potential tax consequences for transferring assets between divorcing spouses. In high-asset divorce cases, the tax burden could be significant.